I’m a bit of a skeptic about design awards. It seems like any reasonably big architecture or urban design project will have achieved recognition by some organization for something and small projects often struggle to impress anyone.
Lately I’ve been very much interested in the subject of design excellence in architecture and urbanism because a lot of people talk about it and opinions about what it is and how to achieve it seem wildly divergent.
I wrote a piece recently about Toronto’s Bridgepoint Health, where I outlined three main components that helped that project achieve a high level of architectural design. At the time I cited its 2014 award from the Ontario Association of Architects for Design Excellence as evidence and in spite of my skepticism I think that’s a reasonably good argument, given that’s a peer reviewed award and the field is quite broad.
This week I learned that the project received recognition for Healthcare Design from the American Institute of Architects. It was one of eight projects that received recognition in 2015 and the only built work with a budget above $25 M to be recognized. In my opinion, receiving recognition of this type; a national award from a country other than the one the project is built in, is much more significant than a regional award. More meaningful still, the jury commented specifically on the use of views and natural light in creating an ideal health care environment for both those that recieve and give care in that environment. Also gratifying is the fact that this award focuses on Health Care, an architecture project type where it’s difficult to do something unique and well thought through.
As the features of Bridgepoint continue to be recognized by broader audiences and the impacts of early design decisions become better understood by the health care community and those that use the building let’s hope that it stands theses tests and that we can learn something about how to make better spaces for healing.
Image from the OAA Website.